Foreword Reviews

The Kahuna and I

A Remarkable True Hawaiian Story

Clarion Rating: 3 out of 5

The Kahuna and I is an illustrative memoir about spirituality, growth, and a woman’s winding path toward love.

Victoria Kapuni’s memoir The Kahuna and I is about moving from a society life in the contiguous United States to the Hawaiian islands.

Raised in an old Pennsylvania family, Kapuni was a typical society girl. Her childhood was traditional and sheltered, rendering her somewhat naïve. When she grew up, she was married four times—the last time to William Kuamo’o Helelani Kapuni, a Hawaiian kahuna from Molokai, whom she met while on vacation with her third husband.

Kapuni’s story includes transitions from society’s upper echelons to the rugged landscapes of Wyoming. It involves a harrowing adventure on the Colorado River and a deep spiritual connection with a Zuni elder. Connections with nature are established; the book roots Kapuni’s path to Hawaii in her father’s love of flowers, which gave her a desire to visit and see the flora and fauna of Molokai. The portions of the book focused on her Hawaiian marriage involve contentment and joy, positioning her fourth husband as a spiritual partner with whom she experienced the energies of the islands and the earth. The couple is seen enjoying the Festival of Canoes in Lahaina and organizing against commercial developments at La’au Point.

The book finds its core in exploring the route that Kapuni took when it came to meeting, and becoming involved with, Bill Kapuni. It emphasizes personal challenges and spiritual growth as key. The book’s early descriptions of privileged family life, debutante events, and coping with dyslexia are replaced first by its focus on marriage and motherhood, but more significantly, by threads of spiritual awakening.

The book’s spiritual elements are unexpected and involving. Kapuni was raised as a Christian Scientist, and those beliefs are shown to have had a profound impact on her spirituality, especially the tradition’s notions that illness is an illusion, and its belief in faith healing. Kapuni’s upheavals, including those of death and divorce, resulted in doubt and led to her renunciation of organized religion in favor of a more intimate, interfaith experience through communion with nature. Where the book explores that connection, it imparts love and respect.

However, frequent tense changes result in reading confusion, and the text overuses parentheticals to explain itself. Its errant capitalization and homophone issues are also distracting, while many of the Hawaiian words and phrases it employs are misspelled or misused.

The Kahuna and I is an illustrative memoir about spirituality, growth, and a woman’s winding path toward love.

Reviewed by Dontaná McPherson-Joseph

Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The author of this book provided free copies of the book and paid a small fee to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. Foreword Reviews and Clarion Reviews make no guarantee that the author will receive a positive review. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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